Wayback Whensday – I Was Just A Child Then

Among the newly added journals at newspapers.com is a 10 month run from May 1880 to February 1881 of The Daily Graphic: An Illustrated Evening Newspaper which ran from 1873 to 1889 and is legendary for its, well, graphics.

The cartoon and comic strip covers include work by Livingston Hopkins (top), Edward W. Kemble (bottom), Charles J. Taylor (the other comic strip above) and someone whose signature I can’t make out (anyone?).

Cusachs, Cusacks, Leusachs, ???

Also great illustrations and cartoons by Woolf, Feggin, Miranda, Kendrick, Riordan and many more.

The Daily Graphic alone is well worth a trial subscription.


It’s the sesquicentennial anniversary of the birth of Margaret G. Hays.

From the Women In Comics Wiki:

Margaret Parker Gebbie Hays (July 3, 1874 – September 13, 1925) was a newspaper comic writer and cartoonist who worked during the early part of the 20th century. She collaborated with her sister Grace Drayton on a number of projects. Her daughter Mary A. Hays was also a cartoonist…

Comic Strips

  • 1905-1906: Dolly Drake and Bobby Blake in Storyland (writer, art by Drayton)
  • 1905-1909: The Turr’ble Tales of Kaptin Kiddo (writer, art by Drayton)
  • 1908: Jennie and Jack, Also the Little Dog Jap
  • 1911: Kaptin Kiddo and Puppo (writer, art by Drayton)
  • 1913: Kaptin Kiddo’s ‘Speriences (writer, art by Drayton)


The First Adventure Comic Strip: Bobby the Boy Scout

Allan Holtz discovered the earliest known adventure comic strip.

For Hogan’s Alley magazine issue #10, published around the turn of the century, I wrote an article tracing the origins of the newspaper adventure comic strip. Starting from what are often thought of as the firsts, Buck Rogers and Tarzan (which in an amazing coincidence started on the same day in 1929) the article worked the true origin backward in time. 

Any serious comic strip fan can probably name a few precursors to these popular strips, but I like to think that I surprised one and all by tracing the form back almost two full decades to 1911. It was on August 21 1911 that the Pittsburg Leader, a comparatively minor paper in that city, offered its readers a new homegrown comic strip, Bobby the Boy Scout. The Leader probably couldn’t afford much syndicated material, so they picked a fellow out of the art bullpen and dumped the job in his lap. F.E. Johnston was a cipher to me then, but Alex Jay has since fleshed out his bio here in an Ink-Slinger Profile.

Now Allan Holtz presents the first adventure comic strip.

In Hogan’s Alley I was only able to show a few examples of the strip, and they had to be run at very small size. Not much for readers to sink their teeth into. I did make some quite decent photocopies off the microfilm back then, and recently came upon them in the stacks. So now after just a short wait of 20-plus years, I’d like to present to you the first month of Bobby the Boy Scout, which will be run here over the next ten days. Because the captions are quite hard to read on these copies, I have added better quality printed captions underneath them.

3 thoughts on “Wayback Whensday – I Was Just A Child Then

  1. The man in the February, 1881 issue working the vault door of the Treasury is John Sherman, who was at various times a Senator from Ohio, Secretary of State, and Secretary of the Treasury. He is the namesake of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Sherman was elected to the Senate by the Ohio legislature (as per the rules in force in those days) in James Garfield’s stead when Garfield won the 1880 election — this happened very shortly after the plea in the cartoon to keep Sherman at Treasury. Judging from the February 23, 1881 New York Times, there seems to have been some action by certain national banks (i.e., federally chartered banks) to “surrender circulation” with an eye toward “influencing Congress.” This, I think, was tied to some then-current issues regarding refinancing Civil War debt and the use of “greenbacks,” (United States Notes) currency that was not tied to gold or silver.

    1. The “Year of Three Presidents” was a very interesting one. In February Rutherford Hayes was president, who had famously stolen the previous election and wisely refused to run for a second term.

      President-elect Garfield had just discovered that Vice-President-elect Chet Arthur publicly bragged that he had helped steal the election in Indiana, and Jimmy had just told the guy who would eventually shoot him to fuck off several times.

      …and they say today’s politics is screwy.

  2. Also, that’s Phillip G. Cusachs. There’s a brief profile of him, along with other celebrated cartoonists, in the May 29, 1884 Terre Haute Weekly Gazette. Born in New Orleans in 1841, studied in Germany, returned in 1870 to New Orleans, and joined the Graphic’s staff in 1874. A quick search on newspapers.com shows that he died on or about March 13, 1892.

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